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Dion Fortune

by

Ithel Colquhoun

From external link Ithel ColquhounThe Sword of Wisdom MacGregor Mathers & the Golden Dawn G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1975
Dion Fortune
a.k.a. Violet Mary Firth a.k.a. Mrs. Penry Evans 1891-1946

An orphan of Yorkshire descent, she was brought up in a household of Christian Scientists. To earn a living she took a post in an institution~he does not particularise its nature nor that of her own duties-where the principal incapacitated her (or so she believed) by a combination of hypnotism and ill-wishing. She recounts the incident under suitable disguise in the Preface to Psychic Selfr Defrnce (i 930); I take it that the adept who rescued her and whom she refers to as Z was J. W. Brodie-Innes. She probably met him in the Theosophical circles she frequented.

Having studied psychology and psych~analysis at London University, she worked as a lay-psychotherapist-that is, one without a medical degree-at a clinic.

In 1919 she was initiated into the A .~. O.~. Lodge, a London daughter-Lodge led by Mrs. Maiya Tranchell-Hayes, of BrodieInnes's Amen Ra in Edinburgh. Kenneth Grant identifies Vivian le Fay Morgan, the central character in Violet's novel The Sea Priestess (1938) and its sequel, Moon Magic (1956), with Maiya-though I assumed this Circean figure to be a narcissistic self-portrait of the author. However that may be, Violet soon became dissatisfied with Maiya and transferred her allegiance to the other A .~. O.~. Lodge in London, then recently established by Molna MacGregor Mathers. I have afready recounted her brief career with Moina and its con- sequences. Following the break, she also joined the Hermes Lodge of the SM and, as Regardie says in The Eye in the Triangle, was allowed by one of its Chiefs to found an Order of her own.

Shortly after she married Dr. Penry Evans and they collaborated with some success in various methods of psychotherapy, some of which have not gained general acceptance in the medical profession. Later the partnership grew inharmonious and separation ensued.

Dion Fortune was preminently a publicist for esoteric ideas and an organiser of esoteric studies; she wrote and lectured inde- fatigably while carrying on her Fraternity. As a novelist she relies on the intrinsic fascination of her themes and the occult information they convey, often in an entertaining manner; she is no literary artist, her style lacking distinction and sometimes even grammar. In characterisation, her assumption of toughness when her narrator is supposed to be a man is particularly unconvincing.

All this is only to say that she did the best she could, starting from a somewhat deprived background and lacking an extended education. She had to scrounge what, had she been a man, would have been considered her right. While her courage and enterprise deserve salute, one has to admit that her scholarship is inadequate and her innaccuracies legion. Her earliest publication was a 'slim volume' of verse, Violets (1914); her latest, posthumous works such as the popular handbooks of 1962, Aspects of Occultism and Applied Magic -an example of her journalistic ability, though over-full of padding for the specialist taste. Her best-known treatise, The Mystical ~abalah, is a readable introduction to the subject as taught in the GD and should rank among the 'revelations' of that teaching which disregarded the oaths of secrecy under which it was given. It broke new ground when it first appeared in 1935 and several later authors are indebted to it.

'Dion Fortune' used to give public lectures in a large drawing-room furnished as a meeting-hall on an upper floor of her Fraternity's headquarters.